25th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
director: Ron Howard
original title: Rebuilding Paradise
country: United States
running time: 95 min.
On November 8, 2018, one spark was enough to start a fire on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which was one of the most devastating fires in California history. The fiery hell left 85 victims and more than 60,000 hectares of scorched land. The town of Paradise was also reduced to ashes. In the emotional documentary by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, the surviving residents return to the place of destruction to overcome the trauma of losing their homes and face their uncertain future. Together with them, we experience a year of despair, facing the untamed element, and the hope and determination to start anew and rebuild the lost paradise.
„Well, I’d never been, you know, around anything like that, that sort of total devastation. And that in and of itself was shocking to the nervous system. And then to see and begin to interview people who, you know, had experienced the rug completely pulled out from under them, what was going to be left for them. And that became our story. And it’s also something that they wanted to talk about. They wanted to share that footage. They wanted people to understand that as we saw these individuals, make some pretty remarkable decisions and take these steps toward actually trying to rebuild their lives and this community, we would never forget that, you know, in their recent past was this harrowing experience.“ R. Howard
Hollywood director and producer Ron Howard (1954) started as a child actor. In 1977, he made his directorial debut with the comedy Grand Theft Auto. Since then, he has directed a number of award-winning dramas, such as Backdraft (1991), Apollo 13 (1995), A Beautiful Mind (2001) or Rush (2013), as well as the successful comedies Splash! (1984) and Parenthood (1989). His two previous documentaries, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week (2016) and Pavarotti (2019), were also very well received.
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other films in the section
This documentary portrait explores the life and works of the Austrian author Peter Handke (1942). Through interviews, quotes, and archive materials Corrina Belz takes a look at the life and thoughts of this famous artist. She has created an empathic and inspirational film about the perception of reality and how it is transformed into a work of art, initiating questions about how one should live.
Peter Handke - In the Woods, Might Be Late
Germany / 2016 / 89 min.
In a collage of private scenes and fragments of medialized events as part of the “war on terror”, Guli Silberstein uses his typical method of digital image degradation with the help of compression algorithms to draw attention to the actual process of remediating images and thus in two way raises questions as to their representation, credibility, and the emotions that they can carry.
Stuff As Dreams
United Kingdom / 2016 / 6 min.
The provocative thesis that people who commit evil can be accused only of the stupidity with which they follow orders and of possessing a dull and stunted consciences is one of philosopher Hannah Arendt’s best known and radical ideas. This biographical documentary looks at her interesting personal life in the turbulent 20th century.
Vita Activa - The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
Israel / 2015 / 124 min.
This investigative documentary explores Stuxnext – a top-secret cyberattack engineered by Israel and the USA against Iranian nuclear facilities. In addition to presenting a collection of facts and interviews with experts, it also reveals the information search process. The film very forcefully draws attention to the power of computer weapons and the risk of a global cybernetic war.
United States / 2016 / 116 min.
What Louie Palu experienced during the four years he spent covering the war in Afghanistan as an independent reporter exceeds the possibilities of photography. A montage of images, diary entries, commentaries, and authentic video footage creates a bleak document with an atmosphere as inhospitable as the Afghan landscape. This film may serve as a catharsis even for its makers.
Louie Palu, Devin Gallagher
Canada / 2015 / 76 min.
East European Premiere
This analytical documentary follows the young Canadian Daniel Voshart, who became involved in a high-profile American police shooting case. We are presented with a study of a conflict between an academic interest to determine the true course of events and morality, personal interests, and public emotion. Is any person’s view of a situation ever objective?
Canada / 2016 / 29 min.
Like many citizens of the Soviet Union at the time, Lithuanian seaman Simas Kudirka believed that a better future awaited him in the West. On 23 November 1970, when the Sovetskaya Litva he was on passed by the USCGC Vigilant, he decided to take advantage of the opportunity and jumped no less than three metres from the Soviet fishing boat onto the US Coast Guard patrol boat. This bold attempt of his to obtain political asylum caused social upheaval and prompted some very important dialogue between the two world powers. The dramatic re-enactment of this curious incident also reveals how radically the US government’s attitude towards refugees has changed since the Cold War.Q&A with the director Giedrė Žickytė:
Lithuania, Latvia, France / 2020 / 85 min.
Joseph Kony, the self-appointed leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, abducted tens of thousands of children in northern Uganda over the course of twenty-five years and trained them to kill. In the interview led by the film’s director, the trio of narrators return to the site of their captivity and, with a touch of bizarre humor, replay the merciless daily routine of their stolen childhood in the bush.
France, Belgium, Germany / 2015 / 133 min.
Central European Premiere
Over the course of five years, a pair of documentary filmmakers visited the American prairies, the Mediterranean coast, and the Mongolian steppe to better understand one of the longest-running, human-predator relationships – falconry. Lauren, an anthropologist, travels the world and teaches injured eagles to fly and hunt again. Giovanni left Rome and lives in the countryside with just hawks, wolves, and horses to keep him company. The Khalifa, meanwhile, is preparing his falcon for the races in Dubai. All three continue to develop a tradition in majestic natural scenery that is as endangered today (as are some species of birds of prey) due to a vanishing wilderness, declining cultures, and the fragility of the ecosystem. „Overland is a place of openness. For us, it is about he need to wake the wild in ourselves if we are going to protect the wild on this earth.“ E. Haviland James, R. La Noue Q&A with Elisabeth Haviland James, Revere:
Elisabeth Haviland James, Revere La Noue
United States, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Mongolia, Azerbaijan / 2020 / 104 min.
Technological advances and cultural development have disrupted the balance between humankind and other animals. Instead of looking at similarities, we focus on differences. Co-existence has been replaced by dominance. We have forgotten that we live in a house that does not belong only to us. However, the ties between humans and other inhabitants of the animal kingdom have not been irreversibly broken. In his visual essay, which is both intimate and philosophical, Alessandro Cattaneo focuses specifically on those things that connect us. The statements of thinkers and idyllic shots of interspecies interactions indicate that if we change the way in which we think about animals, it will be beneficial for the entire ecosystem. “I loved animals, but from a distance. The film was an exploration of a new territory when we started to shoot the film. From that day on, I experienced being so close to so many animals. You feel really naked when you are two feet away from black horse and a man riding him without a saddle.” A. Cattaneo Q&A with Allessandro Cattaneo:
RES CREATA - Humans and other animals
Italy / 2019 / 80 min.
East European Premiere
This narrative documentary, containing a large volume of period materials, tracks a group of Chilean economists who were influenced by their study of Friedman’s neoliberalism in the USA. They helped to shape Chile as Latin America’s economic crown jewel during Pinochet’s regime. This controversial economic experiment has led to the current social unrest in the country.
Rafael Valdeavellano, Carola Fuentes
Chile / 2015 / 85 min.
East European Premiere
An investigative documentary unravels the net of complex relationships and motivations behind the groups that refuse to acknowledge potentially fatal impacts of the climatic crisis. Research and predictions of climatic experts and specialists from other related fields of science are questioned by communication specialists who reduce the issue to a task of finding convincing arguments to be fed to the general public. Given the world of lobbying and post-truth we live in, it's hardly surprising that some of the most influential anticlimactic think-tanks are financed by the biggest producers of fossil fuel. A gripping insight into the art of deception starts in 1988, the year when the world was getting ready to fight the climatic change. Ever since then, oil companies have worked behind the scenes, supporting or even organizing events in order to destroy or at least slow down environmental movements struggling to protect our planet, and to make the society turn against them. “Mads Ellesøe is a journalist who can take on both the fine details and the big perspective. Both the compassionate portrait and the big revelation.” You can watch the director’s introduction HERE Recorded Q&A with the director:
The Campaign Against the Climate
Denmark, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium / 2020 / 53 min.